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Hebron Overview

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Places of Interest

Hebron Overview




1. The city of Hebron is set in the Judean Mountains about 20 miles (32 km.) south of Jerusalem.


2. Hebron stands 3,000 feet (914 m.) above sea level, making it the highest city in Israel.


3. While there have been tensions in the past between Israelis and Arabs, the Cave of the Patriarchs and Tel Hebron (Tel Rumeida) is protected by Israeli forces, and around 250,000 tourists visit Hebron annually. 


Historical Background


1. Hebron is one of the most popular places in the Bible being mentioned 72 times.


2. It was inhabited by the Canaanites before Abraham and the Israelites arrived.


3. Hebron is the beginning place and roots of the nation of Israel. God's promises and covenants with Abraham and his descendants happened in Hebron or nearby. These promises would also have wide-reaching implications and include all the nations of the earth.


4. Located in Hebron is Machpelah, the Cave of the Patriarchs. 


  • Abraham purchased the cave and the adjoining field at full market price as a burial place for his family some 3,700 years ago.

  • The Cave of the Patriarchs building is the second holiest site in Judaism (after the Western Wall in Jerusalem) and is also sacred to Christians and Muslims.

  • In the cave are the tombs of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob and Leah.

  • The tombs of the patriarchs are under the foundation of the building, but their memorial monuments are visible in the building on the first floor. 

  • The site was venerated throughout Israel's history, and King David, along with the other kings, preserved and protected it. 

  • Just before the time of Christ, King Herod built a massive wall around the cave in around 20 BC to preserve it and establish a memorial place for the Jews. He used the same style of stones as he did for the Temple Mount walls in Jerusalem.

  • In order to appease the Jews, King Herod built three holy sites. These consist of: (1) this site of Machpelah (2) Mamre (just a mile or 1.5 km. north of this site), and (3) the Temple Mount and temple in Jerusalem.

  • This building of Machpelah is the only building in Israel that has remained intact and undamaged since it was built.

  • During the Byzantine period (324-638 AD), the building was used as a church and they erected a small basilica with a roof over part of the interior.

  • The Muslims (638 - 1099 AD) then used it as a mosque.

  • The Crusaders (1099 - 1263) continued to use it as a church and built the roof that exists today that covers the entire building.

  • Today, because Abraham is a central figure in both Judaism and Islam, the Cave of Machpelah building is shared by both the Jews and Muslims. On one side of the building is a synagogue and on the other side is a mosque.

  • The tombs of the patriarchs are under the foundation of the building, but their memorial monuments are visible in the building on the first floor. 

Places of Interest


1. Cave of the Patriarchs (Machpelah)


  • Jewish Synagogue

  • Mosque

  • Tombs of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs


2. Tel Hebron (Tel Rumeida)


  • Abraham’s Well

  • Ancient Stairs

  • Tomb of Jesse and Ruth (King David’s father and great grandmother)

  • Old Olive Trees

  • Ancient Canaanite City Walls

  • The Canaanite wall overlaid by a glacis from the Israelite period

  • Walls and stone road from the time of Abraham

  • Likely place of King David's Palace

  • Four-room structure from the time of King Hezekiah

  • Ancient Synagogue

  • Stepped street from the Early Roman period

  • Pottery workshop from the Early Roman period

  • Eastern ritual bath from the Early Roman period

  • Western ritual bath from the Early Roman period

  • New Excavations

  • Hebron Observatory


3. Oaks of Mamre (located within Hebron 1 mile or 1.5 km. north of the Cave of Machpelah)


Hebron in the Bible


1. After God affirmed His covenant with Abraham, he built an altar to the Lord nearby at Mamre and lived here.
Genesis 13:17–18: Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.” 18 Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the Lord.


2. At Hebron, Abraham learned in a dream that his descendants would spend 400 years as slaves in Egypt.
Genesis 15:12–14: Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him. 13 God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. 14 But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward, they will come out with many possessions.


3. At Hebron, Ismael was born to Abraham and Sarah’s handmaid, Hagar (Gen. 16:4).


4. Near Hebron, God made a covenant with Abraham that he would be “the ancestor of a multitude of nations.”  
Genesis 17:1–8: When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, 2 that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, 4 “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. 7 And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. 8 And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”


5. At Hebron, Abraham offered hospitality to three servant angels of God and received the promise of a son.
Genesis 18:10–14:  They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” 10 The LORD said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” 13 The LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.”


6. At Hebron, Abraham bought the Cave of Machpelah as a burial place for his wife, Sarah, and his family.
Genesis 23:19: After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field at Machpelah facing Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. 


7. Later, Abraham, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, and Leah would also be buried in the Cave of Machpelah.


8. Jacob returned to Hebron after he had sojourned in Paddan-aram.
Genesis 35:27: Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre of Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had sojourned.


9. Joseph was sent from Hebron to Shechem, where he would be sold into slavery and taken to Egypt.
Genesis 37:14: Then he said to him, “Go now and see about the welfare of your brothers and the welfare of the flock, and bring word back to me.” So he sent him from the valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.


10. Nearby to Hebron, two of the spies who researched the Promised Land returned with a large cluster of grapes.
Numbers 13:21–23: So the men explored the land from the Desert of Zin to the border of Hamath. 22 They went through the Negev and came to Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai lived. They are descendants of Anak. (Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) 23 When they came to the Eshcol Valley, they cut off a branch with only one bunch of grapes on it. They carried it on a pole between two of them.


11. Hebron was given to Caleb as an inheritance for his faithfulness to the Lord.
Joshua 14:13–14: So Joshua blessed him and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. 14 Therefore, Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb, the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite until this day, because he followed the Lord God of Israel fully.


12. Samson carried the gates of Gaza 35 miles (55 km.) up to a mountain close to Hebron (Judges 16:1–3).


13. David was anointed king in Hebron and reigned here for 7 1/2 years (2 Sam. 2:1–4, 11).

Faith Lesson from Hebron


1. God confirmed His promises and covenants with Abraham at Hebron and fulfilled them all. Do we believe and embrace the promises of God?


2. Caleb was one of the faithful spies who received Hebron as a reward. Are we faithful like Caleb, and do we have our hope placed in our eternal home in heaven as our reward?


3. David was anointed king in Hebron because he was a person after God’s own heart. Do we love the Lord like David, and are we desiring to serve Him in significant ways as David did?

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